We learned today what the headliner will be for UFC 281 which will be the promotion’s annual trip to Madison Square Garden. On ESPN this afternoon, middleweight champion Israel Adesanya (23-1) announced that he would be defending his title against Alex Pereira (6-1).
UFC 281 goes down on November 11th and it will actually mark the third time that Adesanya has fought Pereira. Their first two fights took place in Glory Kickboxing with Alex Pereira getting the better of both matchups.
The last bout taking place in 2017 which was actually Adesanya’s last pro kickboxing match before he made the jump the UFC. Pereira won the fight by devastating knockout. The first fight he won by decision.
For the first time in his UFC career, Adesanya is fighting someone on his level if not superior in striking. Pereira has ran through his competition in the UFC. Most recently, Pereira fought Sean Strickland at UFC 276 and scored a devastating knockout.
Pereira believes that he’s in Adesanya’s head with his past success against him. One thing we know for sure is that Adesanya has no substance behind claims to being the better striker with their past results.
Adesanya’s Toughest UFC Bout
In this bout, Adesanya will be looking to collect his sixth ruby for his sixth successful title defense. So far, Adesanya’s title reign and defenses have been filled with taking on the very best at 185.
After defeating Robert Whittaker for the undisputed title, he’s gone on to defeat Whittaker again, Marvin Vettori, Jared Cannonier, Paulo Costa, and Yoel Romero. The one blemish on Adesanya’s record came at UFC 259 when he tried to become a two-division champ.
To this day, he’s never lost at 185 pounds. In his last three performances, Adesanya has been criticized for being more calculated and less risky. This has led to decision wins but he hasn’t had a finish since the Paulo Costa fight.
This is going to be Adesanya’s toughest test. For the first time, he’ll be fighting his striking equal so we might see a different gameplan from Stylebender. I for one cannot wait to see this one unfold.